Accepting What Is

Sometimes, we tell ourselves nice stories. When someone behaves badly, we try to figure out why…there must be a reason…rather than accepting this is who they are.

Maya Angelou wrote:

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

This truth can apply to many present day situations, but I’m going to apply it to our resident black snake.

He is a black snake. He is a wild animal. He is a predator. He eats our hen’s eggs and now, he is going after the hens.

The snake is not a pet. He will not be tamed. He is, simply, hungry and the chicken coop is right around the corner from his den.

Facts are facts. These are our choices:

  1. Kill the snake.
  2. Try to catch and re-home the snake.
  3. Let it stay until it’s succeeded in killing the hens.

Obviously, only the first two are options. One is easier than the other.

Scared hens burrow under each other’s wings.

Accepting the Snake

If you live in the southeast and spend time outdoors, chances are you’ve run across a black snake. These guys are not poisonous and are known for good things, like keeping away copperheads and mice.

There’s a black snake that lives under our house. He was here before we moved in. One day, years ago, my husband returned from walking the dog and there was the snake, coiled up and napping on the back door step. The snake retreated to his den, which seems to be through a crack in the concrete, under the step, under the house.

People asked, why don’t you kill the snake? Well. Why should I? He hasn’t done anything…yet.

“This kind of psychological fear is always of something that might happen, not of something that is happening now.” Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

I don’t mind snakes. I certainly don’t want to come across a venomous one or spend a whole lot of time with a boa constrictor, but they do not send me into waves of fear like certain eight-legged (or six if you’re out west) crawly things. We let the black snake stay. He (or she) was big, probably five feet then, and – let’s be honest – he was there before us.
Then he discovered the chicken coop. For the past few years, he’s been an occasional visitor to the coop. Once a week in summer, maybe less. After September, he seemed to hibernate and when May hit, he’d show up now and then. He’d steal an egg or two…for us, if he kept away the rodents, we were willing to give up an egg from our small flock.


He likes to burrow under the woodshavings in the coop and has been locked in the coop overnight. His backside is scarred with marks from pecking beaks. He’d never hurt the hens that we saw, although one night, during a thunderstorm, he gave us all a big scare. There’s a chance, a chance, he was squeezing one of the hens.

So we accept the snake.
This is what led to my acceptance. Sometimes the hens squawk when the snake shows up. Sometimes not. Like this. They’re calm.


Sometimes its a surprise to open up the coop to collect eggs and there he is. This was one of the surprise times. I went back and got the broom to shoo him out – the usual method. And for the first time, I saw him with the egg already in his mouth. I’d never seen anything like it. I wasn’t a science kid, I’d never seen a snake eating up close.

It was amazing, to me, to watch him unhinge his jaw and swallow that egg whole. The entire process took about a half hour. I sat about a foot away and recorded him. The egg made its way past his throat, and into his body. I think I even heard a crunch of the crushed eggshell.

After he swallowed the egg, he rested in the coop. Snakes don’t move much after a meal. I even lifted him out with the broom and he just slithered to the porch step to rest some more.

I was fascinated. But I was also late for graduation (I teach, if you’re wondering). So I lifted him over the fence, where he curled up in the grass and warmed up in the sun.

I can accept this reptile who is doing his thing. He hadn’t hurt the hens and as long as he was limited to a single egg, this could work. I might just have a new pet.

Don’t Forget St. Gertrude

Well, you learn something new every day. Not only is today St. Patrick’s Day, but it is also St. Gertrude’s Day. And Gertrude is the patron saint of cats.


Ironically, or maybe not, one of the few photographs I have is this one, of my great-grandmother, Rose Glennon Lamb and her daughter, Gertrude in the back row. There is also a cat in the picture, held by the child Mary Brogan. They lived in Yonkers, N.Y. in the early 1900s. Perhaps it was taken on St. Gertrude’s Day?


From Mentalfloss:

As saint expert Thomas J. Craughwell explains it, “St. Gertrude … is invoked against mice and rats, which has led cat lovers to assume that Gertrude was a cat person, and so the ideal patron of their favorite pet.” There are now many icons and paintings of her with a cat.


Although the Vatican can make a saint’s patronage official, it has never done so with Saint Gertrude and cats. But most patron saints have been assigned their duties by popular tradition rather than by official recognition. So, if you want to get a medal of St. Gertrude to hang around your cat’s neck, go right ahead. ~Valerie DeBenedett


Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny …millions of Irish immigrants have called America home

Ireland came to America because, deprived of liberty, deprived of opportunity, of safety, of even food itself, the Irish believed, for decades before Lady Liberty lifted her lamp, we were the wretched refuse on the teeming shore. We believed in the shelter of America, in the compassion of America, in the opportunity of America… Enda Kenny, Taoiseach

Maybe because some of us tend to forget our ancestor’s journey, is the reason why history repeats itself.Maybe with each successive wave of immigration, we should remember our own history. While many demand that certain groups stay out, or assimilate faster, it would be a good time to recall that it took generations for our families to complete the journey.

My ancestor’s left Ireland during the Famine. They made their way to New York and to the marble quarries of Westchester County. Later, they moved a few miles into Yonkers and made their living at the Alexander Smith Carpet Mill. Here in Yonkers, branches of my family tree joined together. My great-grandfather, after several years in the carpet factory, was the first to leave the labor field for a desk job selling insurance. Fifty years later, after World War II, my grandfather, 3rd generation Irish, left the enclave and reinvented himself in Washington, D.C.

Three generations of quarry labor and factory work. Three generations before my grandfather broke away. From serving in the Coast Guard, he discovered his love of radio and love of performance. He landed a radio job in DC, which led later to television and advertising. My father, fourth-generation, was the first to go to college.

As the Taoiseach says, the Irish came here because they believed in the shelter, compassion, and opportunity of America. They worked hard for generations in order to provide for their families. It took generations to move out of the neighborhood from which all was familiar, to leave the remnants of Ireland behind.

Is it Right?

Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But, conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

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